A Windy City Momma Finds A New Toy Store

Occasionally, I find myself with a free afternoon.  I like to take advantage of these rare opportunities and explore a never explored area of Chicagoland.  Today, I landed in Glencoe and Winnetka.

I am the type of mom who likes to stockpile birthday gifts.  Yes, if you are reading this and actually live near me, chances are pretty good that your daughters’ gifts were purchased well before I actually received an invitation to the party.  But not to fear, I almost always purchase these gifts with one thought on my mind: Would my daughter want to receive this gift if it was her birthday?

So today I decided to explore Beat Street, a boutique-y toy store that has, among other things:

Toys, gifts, candy, seasonal gifts, tin robots, japanese items, party favors, pajamas, t-shirts, jewelry, plush, unique and unusual items, arts & crafts, science toys, artisan items, board games, baby gifts, spa and beauty products, bags, purses, wallets, lunch boxes, books, boy and girl gifts, stickers, music boxes, flip books, yo-yos, back to school items, holiday, keychains, watches, clocks, blankets, pillows, bean bags…

Here’s a pic from their Yelp.com “page”:

Despite its location, in the stereotypic “North Shore” notoriously known for its ambivalent sales staff and snotty affect,  I found the customer service at Beat Street to be quite agreeable and the staff to be knowledgable and accommodating.  For instance, when I asked for a particular shirt (Eat Vegetables, Not our Friends (animals)) that was out of stock, the owner offered to order it for me.

The store is LOADED with the “MUST HAVES” for the 12 and under birthday party set (particularly for girls.)  They carry a wide assortment of Klutz products as well as other more well-known toys brands.  (Breyer horses anyone?)  In fact I may have spent over 45 minutes just browsing and stocking up on birthday gifts.

I snapped a picture of  just one of funky items I picked up this afternoon:

30 Hair Tie Lollipop

I have a few suggestions/comments that could make this store a little more accommodating: mainly, better organization.

  1. When I first entered Beat Street, the back of the store was quite messy and I could not look at some of the items because there was so much stuff on the floor.  It looked like a 2 year old had just thrown all of the merchandise on the floor and made a quick exit out the back door. But by the time I left (again, 45 minutes later) the owner had cleaned everything up.  It is a bit hard to navigate around the store because there is so much product and not enough space.  I had a hard time finding some things and needed to ask for assistance in finding toys for young children.
  2. Also, something that I felt was strange was that there is no restroom or bathroom accessible to the store’s clientele.  Why does this matter?  Because when you bring a child into any store, there is always a chance that the child will need to use the facilities.  I would think that a store designed to entice children, would also want to accommodate their primary customers.  I was informed that the store did not have a bathroom because the water was turned off and was then directed to the Panera Bread across the street.  I was pretty “turned off” by the explanation but decided that it was not a reason not to shop at this store. Had I had a child with me, I might have left the store to take care of her and then not bother to return.  Since I was by myself, no having easy access to a bathroom was not my primary concern.
  3. No website: When I asked about a web site, I was informed that they were working on it.  As someone who shops online A LOT and knows people who don’t live anywhere near this store, I think that it is unfortunate that the Beat Street owners are cutting out this important group of customers.  They have such incredible inventory and I am sure could make a killing with online business!

Whenever I visit and spend money in a store, I ask myself two key questions:  Is the store worthy of my coming back and would I have trouble getting my child out of the store.  In both cases, I would say a very definite “YES!”  Beat Street is a great store to pick up birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter etc. etc. gifts.  Not only will I be back, but I will also recommend to my pals that they check out Beat Street for themselves!

Address and other pertinent information:

Beat Street
930 Green Bay Road
Winnetka, IL  60093 
(847) 441-8580

Save the Earth: One Aveda Customer at a Time

I am a huge fan of Aveda.  Anyone who knows me that I am a true blue Aveda girl.  Sure, a bottle of large hair conditioner can cost a girl but, if it saves the purple stripe in my hair, then it is worth it. But this tale is not about Aveda (however it does play a role.)

Yesterday, I stopped by my local Aveda store in the mall for a cup of tea and to purchase some moisture saving product: Damage Remedy. Anyway, it is important to point out that I was wearing one of my “peace-nic” save the earth t-shirts we wanna-be Quakers seem to be purchasing in bulk these days.  My shirt appropriately said something like “There is no way to peace, peace is the way…Live simply in order to simply live, reduce, reuse, recycle” etc.  So you can imagine my surprise when I spotted two “mature” ladies shuffling through the store virtually torturing the sales girl with ridiculous questions about this cream and that shampoo and does the bath salt truly contain salt?

In the back of mind, I was thinking, “Oh crap.  I need to get home.  Maybe I should just can it and get my butt home before Adam and Kayla beat me home?”  But I decided to hang in there; just to see how this scene would play out.

The two witches hobble to the counter and immediately ask the sales girl “So how much is this junk going to cost me?”  Oh! NO SHE DIDN’T!  Remember, I am a tried and true AVEDA girl and she is calling my product “junk.”  I, again, ask myself what these two ladies are doing at Aveda?  It turns out that Witch #1 received a birthday card in the mail offering her a 5% discount on her next Aveda purchase and a free Sensual journey.  As the sales girl wraps up the sale, she asks the ladies “Would you like to help the environment by choosing not to get a bag for your purchases?”  Instead if saying “No, thank you. I could really use the bag to hold my (Depends, Reading glasses, coupons) she tells the girl “I don’t care about the environment. I’ll be dead before anything happens to the world. I could care less.”  At first thought that this was a joke but realized that she was serious.  She (first) did not give a shit about the environment and (second) was really that obnoxious–this was no act. So the foolish salesgirl continues on this path of questioning despite her first attempt to decrease her carbon footprint and offers to the witch “but what about me?  What about your grandchildren?Don’t you care what happens to us?”  (As if this one person’s decision to have a paper bag will make a huge difference?)  The customer replies “I’ll be dead before any of this matter.  No, I don’t care what happens.”

Okay, so I figure that the conversation has ended and thought that the two ladies would leave the store not understanding its purpose but feeling righteous by receiving a free present.  But, the nacent salesgirl offers the old bitty a “sensual journey?  All you will need to do is take a seat and..” She is immediately interrupted and told that she (the customer) knows that this is all a scam and she doesn’t have tine for this nonsense of sitting down.  Now, I am thinking “Cool, now I can get my stuff aka: junk” and at the same time : What is this old lady doing in Aveda?”  She is dressed in old lady drab (not a cotton clothing article to be found and doesn’t seem to have a clue.

The ladies depart and as they are almost halfway out the door, I of course, open my big mouth and yell “I guess someone did not get her Prunes today, did she?”

I despise people being rude to sales folk who want to help or assist them instead of so many others who could care less.  I wanted to do something for this girl– a hug, a smile or even a giggle.

Don’t think for a second when I left that store, the 2 biddies had scrambled out of site.  I was dying for a confrontation inspite of my hippy shirt.  These ladies deserved a formal tongue lashing!  What a bad impression to leave on our young adults!

I was left with my friend, MK,’s favorite word for describing how the locals feel about themseleves because they live in this area: Entitled.  I am still asking “What are they entitled to that us other working dorks are not so lucky to receive?”  I have no answer tonight but I am still on my quest for the truth about this area.